11/10/2012 06:02 BST | Updated 09/12/2012 05:12 GMT

Consultation Launched On Ambitious Growth Plan For Tourism

This week, VisitBritain has launched a consultation on a growth strategy for tourism to Britain, with an ambition to reach 40 million visitors by 2020, a 3% year on year increase.

Reaching that figure would deliver £8.7 billion additional foreign exchange earnings at today's prices and support more than 200,000 additional jobs.

This summer has shown what the British can do when we are united in a common cause. This country showed passion, professionalism, drive and energy to stage the best ever Olympic and Paralympic Games. The test now is whether we can maintain this to create wealth and jobs through a major tourism drive.

This is no easy task. Hosting world-class events does not automatically lead to an increase in visitor numbers, as many previous host nations have found. The strategy shows how aligning marketing and Government policy can deliver an economic legacy, building on Britain's successful hosting of the Olympic Games. The consultation has been designed to identify shared priorities and potential partnerships.

Britain starts from a position of strength. The UK already welcomes 31 million visitors from across the world, who spent £18 billion a year here last year, making the industry the third-largest earner of foreign exchange. Tourism is a major part of the UK economy, it contributes £115 billion to UK GDP, and provides employment for 2.6 million people - around 9% on both measures.

The strategy sets out four key elements; enhancing Britain's image, ensuring Britain is packaged and sold by the travel trade, building on Britain's strong product offer and making it easier to get here by addressing barriers to growth such as aviation capacity and the visa regime.

Britain can succeed if we work in partnership - aligning priorities, investment and activity.